Saturday, January 24, 2015

Snowy Owl

Today's post isn't about Lake Wicwas, but it is in line with the nature of the blog.  We took a trip out Rye Harbor State Park this week to see if we could find the Snowy Owl that has taken up residence there for the second year in a row.  And we found it easily - you most likely will too if you want to take the trip.  When we arrived it was perched in plain sight up on top of a telephone pole, completely unfazed by the people there with binoculars and cameras. 
Snowy Owl

It is a magnificent bird;  these pictures don't do it justice.

It sat there quietly, its head swiveling around, constantly looking for any motion that indicated lunch was available. 

We got lucky - it saw something on the ground and took off in flight.
En-route to Lunch

Swooping down it scooped up a small creature.

And took it the top of a nearby house where, before doing anything else, it looked all around to make sure no other larger bird noticed its capture and might come along to take it away. 
Did anyone see that?

Seeing that all was clear, it separated the animal from all the grass that came up with it in its talons.
Cleaning the Wheat from the Chaff

It then became apparent that it had selected a mouse for its lunch time meal.

It carefully positioned its fine cuisine in its claws for a flight to its dining spot.

Preparing for Flight
With Lunch in the Cargo Bay
Which was a picnic table on the point, with a window view of the Atlantic Ocean.  It checked all around again to make sure it wasn't being targeted by another predator.

All Clear?
And then got right to work preparing its feast, first disemboweling its prey to consume the delicacies as an appetizer.  (If you have a weak stomach you may want to fast forward a bit.)
The First Course

After that came the main course, gobbling up the rest of the beast.
The Entree

Being very courteous, it spent a moment to clean up any scraps it spilled on the picnic table, and then flew back to its perch for an afternoon siesta.

All the while people were watching its every move.  Someone said this is a female, which seems right based on the quantity of dark spots - the males are predominantly white. 

The Snowy Owl is the largest - by weight - of the North American Owls.  They spend their summers far north of the Arctic Circle, where they hunt rodents in 24-hour daylight.  This must be what has adapted them to hunt in daylight hours during the winter rather than being nocturnal like our full-time resident owls.  In the winter they migrate to the entire northern third of continental America, preferring large areas of open ground.  I understand they have been observed around the Manchester Airport. 

So that was my adventure with the Snowy Owl.  With a touch of precipitation yesterday, I'm happy to say that the owls around Lake Wicwas are snowy also!  There was just enough new snow to get out on the skis;  tomorrow I'll post what I found out on Lake Wicwas this weekend.

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